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Public Policy

SIGCHI’s Involvement in Public Policy

Public policy increasingly plays a role in influencing the work that we do as HCI researchers, interaction designers, and practitioners. Public policy is a broad term that includes both government policy but also policy coming from non-governmental organizations such as standards bodies. Government policies are sometimes limited to a single country, and sometimes involve more complex governing structures (e.g. the European Union), but the community of HCI researchers and designers is worldwide. It is important that members of SIGCHI, who are knowledgeable about interfaces and interaction design, inform policy makers about the existing research, and create standards and guidelines that can be adopted by governments around the world.

Two examples of well-known CHI policy topics:

  1. how to facilitate fair and accurate voting (what types of interfaces, what types of voting machines), and
  2. what types of web-based information should be legally required to be accessible for people with disabilities.

The two examples provide a stark contrast: HCI experts were involved in accessibility policies from the beginning, driving the development of international standards which were then adopted (in modified form) by most governments around the world. HCI experts were not greatly involved in voting machine usability until after the topic came to the forefront of public policy discussion, and the HCI community has still not gotten the attention of policymakers, or made a significant impact in this area. Other potential topics related to public policy and interaction design include the use of interfaces that cause distracted driving, government requirements for multi-lingual web sites, end-user licensing agreements, privacy controls in interfaces, interfaces (and guidelines and processes) for usable e-government information, and interfaces on e-books used in education.

Good design and good research should be the driving force behind these decisions, not just commercial values and local politics. Members of the SIGCHI community are perfectly positioned to offer grounded advice to public policymakers about how people interact with technology, and thus directly affect how people interact with devices, applications and services in the future. The goals of SIGCHI related to public policy are to increase awareness, disseminate information, and involve community members in policy-related activities

SIGCHI appointed a chair of public policy in May 2010, Jonathan Lazar, who has been working to bring the topic of public policy to the attention of SIGCHI members, and has formed a SIGCHI international public policy committee. Since 2004, SIGCHI already had a US Public Policy Committee, which focuses on CHI policy issues specific to the United States. In 2014, the SIGCHI US Public Policy Committee was integrated into the overall SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee. There is also a SIGCHI Listserve Policy. And at CHI 2013, a workshop was held on “Engaging the Human-Computer Interaction Community With Public Policymaking Internationally.” The SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee recently completed a formal report on “Human-Computer Interaction and International Public Policymaking: A Framework for Understanding and Taking Future Actions.”

SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee

  • Julio Abascal, University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Spain
  • Simone Barbosa, PUC-Rio, Brazil
  • Jeremy Barksdale, Virginia Tech, USA
  • Anne Bowser, University of Maryland, and Wilson Center, USA
  • Janet Davis, Grinnell College, USA
  • Vanessa Evers, University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Batya Friedman, University of Washington, USA
  • Marie Gilbert, University of California-Irvine, USA
  • Jan Gulliksen, KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, Digital Champion of Sweden, Chairman of the Digital Commission of Sweden, Sweden
  • Harry Hochheiser, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Juan-Pablo Hourcade, University of Iowa, USA (Chair of US Public Policy)
  • Jeff Johnson, UI Wizards & Wiser Usability, USA
  • Joaquim Jorge, Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal
  • Anirudha Joshi, IIT Bombay, India
  • Jonathan Lazar, Towson University, USA
  • Loïc Martínez Normand, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Tom McEwan, Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom
  • Lisa Nathan, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Philippe Palanque, Université Paul Sabatier, France
  • Fabio Paterno, CNR-ISTI, Italy
  • Raquel Prates, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Sophie KyoungHee Son, KAIST, Korea
  • Janice Tsai, Microsoft, USA
  • Manfred Tscheligi, University of Salzburg, Austria
  • Hans Von Axelson, Handisam, Sweden
  • Marco Winckler, Université Paul Sabatier, France (Chair of EU Public Policy)
  • Volker Wulf, University of Seigen, Germany

“Interacting with Public Policy” Forum in Interactions Magazine

Since January 2010, Interactions magazine has had a forum on “interacting with public policy” and articles from that forum are suggested reading on the topic:

SIGCHI U.S. Public Policy Committee Activities

In 2014, the SIGCHI US Public Policy Committee was integrated into the overall SIGCHI International Public Policy Committee. Since its creation in late 2004, the SIGCHI U.S. Public Policy committee had accomplished the following:

Additional Public Policy Links

The following links to articles on public policy are recommended:

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